Walter Russell Mead is starting to finally talk about some ideas regarding Liberalism 5.0 (not liberal as in big “D” Democratic, but small “d” democratic). His first post out the box has some issues which I hope to get at in another post, but this post takes on the failure of the what Mead calls the “Blue Social Model” and how it relates to African Americans. Read the whole post, but the long and short of it is that a high percentage of middle class African Americans have jobs in the public (read: government) sector. There are reasons for this as Mead explains, and it has lead to African Americans voting overwhelmingly for the Democrats, since they are the ones that tend to support the Blue Social Model the most.
The problem is that we can’t afford government in the way that we used to. Government has to learn to provide services at a cheaper cost and that means that it will be restructured, which is a nice way of saying there will be cuts. Also, many African Americans who joined the public sector decades ago are now reaching retirement age, just at the time that public pensions are an issue.
Mead notes that there has to be way to sell this new form of governing to African Americans. While whites might sound excited at the mention of small government, many African Americans tend to be more concerned since it means the loss of an avenue that could lead to advancement in American society.
After coming back from a few days in Michigan, I’ve thought at lot about how my hometown of Flint and the nearby metropolis of Detroit have been governed over the years. African Americans have risen to leadership in both towns, but it has been interesting to see how in some cases the way the cities were governed resembled Tammany Hall. Zev Chafets notes in a recent Newsweek profile of Hansen Clarke, a new Congressman from Detroit in how Motor City politicians were more about patronage than in trying to revive the city as the auto industry was collapsing.
Which leads to a question: why is there so little emphasis placed on raising a new generation of black entrepeneurs? Don’t we need more Booker T. Washingtons who can help uplift the race? Why are other ethnic groups like Asian Americans more willing to make their way in the private sector?
I don’t say this because I’m some kind of anti-government activist. That said, relying so much on the public sector is not a way to help uplift the millions of African Americans in poverty.
I think that the next big challenge for African Americans is to create climates that can give rise to black Bill Gates to Warren Buffet.
I’m all for seeing more African Americans in government, but we need more black scientists, and CEOs as well.